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Thread: Switch Fencing?

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    Just Joined pete1991's Avatar
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    Switch Fencing?

    I am a beginning fencer with a (probably) silly question. During my last class, our instructor had us doing certain drills with the nondominant side. This got me to thinking... Can a Fencer switch from leftie to rightie or vice a verse during a bout? Like a switch hitter in baseball... Thanks,

    Pete Simon

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    Just Joined FHPyro4L's Avatar
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    During a dry bout, I'm not so sure, but fencing electric it's pretty much impossible to switch right there when all the action is going, because the wire is going up your dominant fencing hand, and to switch would be, "Um, excuse me while I take off my lame, and jacket and put the chord up the other sleeve..." also, you'd need a glove on both hands...
    Live as if you would die tomorrow. Learn as if you would live forever
    -Gandhi

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    Senior Member epeemike81's Avatar
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    More to the point it is illegal to switch hands during a bout. you are allowed to switch between bouts, if you wish. IMO, if you try to do both, you will end up doing neither very well.

    -m

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    Senior Member jkormann's Avatar
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    Originally posted by epeemike81
    More to the point it is illegal to switch hands during a bout. you are allowed to switch between bouts, if you wish. IMO, if you try to do both, you will end up doing neither very well.

    -m
    In my experience Mike, not so. If you can switch between bouts, it gives your fencing an additional dimension. A left who's adept at fencing rightys will be at a disadvantage if you show up as another lefty.

    You need to practice as equally as possible. The 'exterior' skills you have (distance, some timing) should translate right over. The 'interior' skills (reaction, some timing, blade and footwork) will require practice.

    In SCA it's not uncommon to switch hands during a bout (ex: your right hand becomes incapacitated) and for people to switch between bouts.

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    Senior Member epeemike81's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jkormann
    In my experience Mike, not so. If you can switch between bouts, it gives your fencing an additional dimension. A left who's adept at fencing rightys will be at a disadvantage if you show up as another lefty.

    You need to practice as equally as possible. The 'exterior' skills you have (distance, some timing) should translate right over. The 'interior' skills (reaction, some timing, blade and footwork) will require practice.

    In SCA it's not uncommon to switch hands during a bout (ex: your right hand becomes incapacitated) and for people to switch between bouts.
    Name one USFA fencer with a C or better rating who switches hands.

    -m

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    Senior Member jkormann's Avatar
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    Originally posted by epeemike81
    Name one USFA fencer with a C or better rating who switches hands.

    -m
    I don't follow USFA as close as I used to. Why is it important that the fencer be a FIE-style fencer? The question was about fencing in general and the coach getting the students to 'change-up'.

    If I recall correctly, didn't Nadi switch hands? He was above a 'C' rating.

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    Senior Member The0ne's Avatar
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    In theory it would work very well, but you would have to work on bladework twice as much some for the right hand, some for the left, which would be a drag

    The0ne

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    Senior Member epeemike81's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jkormann
    I don't follow USFA as close as I used to. Why is it important that the fencer be a FIE-style fencer? The question was about fencing in general and the coach getting the students to 'change-up'.

    If I recall correctly, didn't Nadi switch hands? He was above a 'C' rating.
    As for why it "must" be FIE fencing, well, I was defending the validity of my original statement, which was made about modern fencing. In addition, any time somebody just refers to "fencing", I will assume modern fencing. Especially on this board which is, of course, dedicated to discussion of modern fencing, not SCA.

    As you, and others, have correctly pointed out, to be able to switch hands, you must practice half the time with each. Thus, you will get half as good with each hand, rather than as good as you could have been with one. Look, I can see how being able to switch hands would be useful in SCA, just like I can see how being good at hopping on one foot would be useful in SCA. however, in modern fencing, it is FAR less useful.

    As for Nadi, I don't know. I would tend to doubt it, but even if it is true, Nadi was a spectacular athlete, and the fact that he could overcome switching hands does not mean it was a good idea.

    -m
    Last edited by epeemike81; 12-08-2002 at 09:59 PM.

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    Senior Member whtouche's Avatar
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    Originally posted by epeemike81
    Name one USFA fencer with a C or better rating who switches hands.

    -m
    Caroline Purcell fenced with her offhand for at least a little while after she broke her main hand (I'm not sure if it was left or right)
    Other than that I agree with your assessment that you should be completely dedicated to one hand. If fencing takes so long to master why would you want to spend twice as much time to get half the benefit?
    Also it could be said that whatever benefit you have as a lefty against another lefty, would not outweigh the benefits of developing actual skill as a righty to be able to properly deal with said lefty.
    I personally like fencing lefties and I don't see how people have all the difficulty with them.

    Also to continue the theme of scattered and disorganized thoughts, I believe caroline purcell only built up her skill in her off hand when she broke her main hand and was forced to or be sidelined, I don't believe she made it a regular training practice.
    "Their interpretation is, however, refuted most elegantly by your system of radioactive atom + amplifier + charge of gun powder + cat in a box"
    -Albert Einstein, in a letter to Erwin Schrödinger

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    Senior Member D'Artagnan1673's Avatar
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    An additional variable to put into consideration as regards to the argument of no "C" or above being a switch fencer. Does the person considering this (switch fencing) care about being a "C" or higher? Does not Modern Fencing have some people who care more about the process than the results? Yes, I agree that results validate the process, but not in the paradym of pure recreation. There are people who come to fence just to enjoy themselves in friendly bouts and are not worried about keeping score. In that case, I would imagine that there would be no reason for that person to not try fencing with both hands. Of course, there aren't too many people who would care to buy two jackets, two lame's and two weapons.
    ... without remorse for the past, confident in the present, and full of hope for the future, [d'artagnan] went to bed and slept the sleep of the brave.
    - The Three Musketeers

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    Senior Member epeemike81's Avatar
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    Originally posted by whtouche
    Caroline Purcell fenced with her offhand for at least a little while after she broke her main hand (I'm not sure if it was left or right)
    Other than that I agree with your assessment that you should be completely dedicated to one hand. If fencing takes so long to master why would you want to spend twice as much time to get half the benefit?
    Also it could be said that whatever benefit you have as a lefty against another lefty, would not outweigh the benefits of developing actual skill as a righty to be able to properly deal with said lefty.
    I personally like fencing lefties and I don't see how people have all the difficulty with them.

    Also to continue the theme of scattered and disorganized thoughts, I believe caroline purcell only built up her skill in her off hand when she broke her main hand and was forced to or be sidelined, I don't believe she made it a regular training practice.
    Changing for injury is, as you pointed out, very different. Caroline was so much worse as a lefty, that she only placed sixth in the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Championships. Though sixth is remarkably good for off-handed fencing (due largely to distance, since her blade actions were not very good), this is an event at which Caroline would normally win with ease.

    -m

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    Senior Member MikeHarm's Avatar
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    You wouldn't necesarilly need extra weapons, I've known fencers who carved ambidexterous french grips that worked good with either hand. I'm surprised the vendors don't sell that sort of thing, I think it would be a money saver for fencing clubs and a lot of people would order them for their beginner's dry weapons.

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    Senior Member D'Artagnan1673's Avatar
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    An older gentleman in my division has made his own grips like that out of wood. He developed a foot problem that he found was only fixed by fencing lefty. I beat him the one time that we fenced but I figured that if he hadn't had to switch, I wouldn't have had quite the easy bout. I won by simply staying out of his reach and pecking the hand. The two times I pressed in, I got an epee in my chest. As said above, once learned, distance stays with you no matter which hand.
    ... without remorse for the past, confident in the present, and full of hope for the future, [d'artagnan] went to bed and slept the sleep of the brave.
    - The Three Musketeers

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    Senior Member epeemike81's Avatar
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    Originally posted by D'Artagnan1673
    There are people who come to fence just to enjoy themselves in friendly bouts and are not worried about keeping score. In that case, I would imagine that there would be no reason for that person to not try fencing with both hands.
    Exactly. For RECREATIONAL fencers, there is no reason NOT to try it. This jives perfectly with my point, which is only that fencing with both hands is NOT a good way to improve results.

    -m

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    Senior Member D'Artagnan1673's Avatar
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    By looking at your posts, your idea of switch fencers appeared to be exclusively SCA fencers. The few recreational fencers at my club do not fence any SCA. Then again, nor do they switch hands either.
    ... without remorse for the past, confident in the present, and full of hope for the future, [d'artagnan] went to bed and slept the sleep of the brave.
    - The Three Musketeers

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    Senior Member epeemike81's Avatar
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    Originally posted by D'Artagnan1673
    By looking at your posts, your idea of switch fencers appeared to be exclusively SCA fencers. The few recreational fencers at my club do not fence any SCA. Then again, nor do they switch hands either.
    On the contrary, I KNOW there are switchers in USFA. I have not, however, ever met a successful one.

    But the point is that if the best endorsement you can come up with is "well, I guess if you aren't looking for results, there's no reason NOT to try it...." then it probably isn't very helpful to your fencing.

    -m

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    Senior Member D'Artagnan1673's Avatar
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    sorry, should have said "by looking at your posts, you believe that only SCA fencers would receive benefit from learning to fence with both hands."

    Has anyone ever written a study on the benefits, or lack thereof, of learning to fence with both hands? You are right, I cannot think of any benefit for a competitive. fencer.
    ... without remorse for the past, confident in the present, and full of hope for the future, [d'artagnan] went to bed and slept the sleep of the brave.
    - The Three Musketeers

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    Brad Baker, NM Division. At least a C in Epee. Not only switches, but switches with all 3 weapons. Anybody from NM or CO divisions can vouch for the fact that he's no pushover with either hand.

    Not terribly common because there are precious few folks who are truly ambidextrious.

    Sean

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    Senior Member epeemike81's Avatar
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    Originally posted by sean
    Brad Baker, NM Division. At least a C in Epee. Not only switches, but switches with all 3 weapons. Anybody from NM or CO divisions can vouch for the fact that he's no pushover with either hand.

    Not terribly common because there are precious few folks who are truly ambidextrious.

    Sean
    Wow. just think how good he could be if he spent ALL of his time working on one side.

    -m

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    Senior Member nahouw's Avatar
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    As a left-handed person, I have learned many sports right-handed -- many feel it is easier to teach a new sport this way (I do all sports right-handed, except for billiards and fencing).

    I even originally learned fencing right-handed, and it wasn't until after 3 years of fencing that my coach saw me writing left-handed and then made me switch. Many years later, when I had an injury to my left arm, I was able to practice both foil and epee right handed with no problem (I originally learned when women were only allowed to fence foil) -- however, when I tried to fence sabre right handed, it was totally ridiculous -- my brain entirely froze, since I only learned sabre left-handed and never had the experience right-handed.

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